NICE needs holistic approach, says public health expert

NICE guidance will need to move beyond a topic-based approach if it is to have an impact on public health inequalities, according to a public health expert.

Speaking at the NICE 2008 conference in Manchester yesterday, Professor David Hunter, chairman of the UK Public Health Association, said that the multiple overlapping causes of public health problems, such as obesity, alcohol abuse and mental health, meant that a holistic approach to public health interventions is needed.

‘There's nothing wrong with a topic-based approach in itself but you have to acknowledge that public health is a series of wicked problems,' he said.

‘Wicked in the sense of there being no easy or simple or straightforward solution.'

He added: ‘We have to look at problems in a more holistic way where interventions are connected,' he said. ‘That poses a challenge for traditional approaches and skills in terms of how we produce evidence and how we use that evidence and devise guidelines from it.'

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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